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The Question
by FR1 Community

When, if ever, do you run quiet?

We asked readers if their departments ever ran calls without lights and sirens

By FireRescue1 Staff

When the tone drops, some departments make as much commotion as possible to alert motorists of their presence. Others opt to run quiet and blend in with traffic for some calls. Much of this decision is guided by state law and SOPs.

So we put it to our readers to tell us how their departments handle the loud vs. quiet debate. We had plenty of responses, and here are 11 of the more interesting ones. Please, add your own in the comment section.

"We have some calls that we consider non-emergency. But if it warrants lights, then it warrants siren. Georgia law states 'audible and visual.' Too many lawsuits out there to not follow state law." — Jeff Bennett

"Never. That doesn't happen." — Rupak Paul

"If I had my way, we'd never use them. Inexperienced drivers get reckless and it doesn't enhance response time in the downtown area with all the stop signs and traffic signals. Sad to say, people don't respect them and freak out when they do see or hear them." — Gillian Hurlburt Cox

"Yes in ice and slick road conditions — for safer driving by us and oncoming traffic." — Richard Myers

"We run without lights or sirens if it's an humane call for like a cat up a tree here in the U.K." — Ray C. Smith

"We shut some lights off when its snowing hard because of visibility reasons." — Ernie Berry

"Any non-life-threatening run: CO alarms in symptoms, non-emergency EMS runs, trees down, discretion of officer in charge, etc." — Tom Lange

"As the officer, I won't let my driver use the lights in severe fog at night (too much reflection back into our eyes). We'll sound the siren as we approach intersections to warn other drivers." — David Rossman

"We shut it down in school zones — don't need the kids running out in front of us." — Michael L. Staton

"We have a causeway in the area that is over a mile long. It is two lanes with no shoulders. If you try running lights and sirens, the drivers you encounter panic and stop right in the roadway. With oncoming traffic there is no place to go. It's easier and safer to just slow down and turn off the lights and siren." — Ronnie Hinze

"Sure, all the time, on the way back to the station after a call." Tyler Sitzer

About the author

"The Question" section brings together user-generated articles from our Facebook page based on questions we pose to our followers, as well as some of the best content we find on Quora, a question-and-answer website created, edited and organized by its community of users who are often experts in their field. The site aggregates questions and answers for a range of topics, including public safety. The questions and answers featured here on FR1 are posted directly from Quora, and the views and opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of FR1.

The comments below are member-generated and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of or its staff. If you cannot see comments, try disabling privacy and ad blocking plugins in your browser. All comments must comply with our Member Commenting Policy.
Larry Benning Larry Benning Wednesday, December 18, 2013 5:15:21 AM We will run with lights only in the middle of the night to avoid waking up the whole town
Robert Faugh Robert Faugh Wednesday, December 18, 2013 7:45:45 PM Run Red only to PROBABLE Life threat emergencies - 10% of the calls. Non-emergency the other 90%. No lights or siren in snow or ice conditions. Worked for us for 20 years.....
Thursday, December 19, 2013 9:02:49 AM We run lights and siren to the scene when the nature of the emergency reported justifies the danger that emergency responses pose to us and the public.
Roy Johnsen Roy Johnsen Friday, December 20, 2013 1:10:11 PM Our area is so small we don't use siren much but do use lights all the time
Will McPherson Will McPherson Saturday, December 21, 2013 4:03:47 PM Only if call has been dispatched as non emergency. All other calls are lights and siren. Siren optional depending on time of night with no traffic.
Oakland Rural Fire District Oakland Rural Fire District Saturday, December 21, 2013 4:08:41 PM We run Code 3 during lighted hours. After dark we usually run Code 1 unless it's warranted. We respect the sleeping public. Also during snow and Ice we run Code 1 until we arrive on scene to prevent people from causing another accident getting out of our way.
Jim Reginelli Jim Reginelli Saturday, December 21, 2013 4:09:51 PM ive had lt's shut of the siren cause they hate the noise
Corbin Doades Corbin Doades Saturday, December 21, 2013 4:11:13 PM If we are called for a possible suicide we won't run lights and siren. Most of the time they have already committed and we are there to verify before coroner shows. At night, we turn our wig-wags off and run lights only to not disturb the community unless there is heavy traffic.
Harold Connor Harold Connor Saturday, December 21, 2013 4:21:09 PM Non emergency calls, some investigations with no health reported problems, AFA's the first due piece goes lights the others go non emergency, calls for MVA stand by's, wires and some others.
Bob Steinmetz Bob Steinmetz Saturday, December 21, 2013 4:30:14 PM sucides and mental health calls
James Garlock James Garlock Saturday, December 21, 2013 5:26:38 PM In the state of Ky must use lights and sirens except for the meat wagons, Everyone else has to run code 3 unless dispatch tells you otherwise.
William Canimore William Canimore Saturday, December 21, 2013 6:32:05 PM we also run with out sirens at midnight unless we get into cars we but most the time there is no need the lights do just fine and if u turn the siren on your adredlin gone and u my not be focie on getting there safe because u don't do any 1 good if u get there dead and also the siren sture up the dree and they my jump out infront ove u also
Daniel Gregory Daniel Gregory Saturday, December 21, 2013 11:27:02 PM In Australia we have 2 options Code 1 means everything going, airhorns blasting.. Code 3 is a quiet run within all road law. The OIC has the right to upgrade the call to Code 1 or if multiple appliances are responding from the 3rd responding onwards they are code 3 unless the job OIC calls everyone on Code 1.
Dave Koppenhaver Dave Koppenhaver Sunday, December 22, 2013 7:50:24 AM We run the majority of our calls class 3 (NO lights or sirens) We turn lights on when we arrive on scene if needed. About the only calls we run lights and sirens are structure fires vehicle accidents with injuries and entrapment and med assist for cardiac arrest.
Dalton Lee Gregory Dalton Lee Gregory Sunday, December 22, 2013 8:21:08 AM No lights and sirens to non-emergency calls: tree down, cat in a tree, lift assist, etc. Often no siren late at night or early in the morning. We're very rural, so between midnight and 5:00, there is hardly any traffic and we have only one traffic light. So running a siren would only serve to wake up the sleeping public.
Anthony Kilroy Anthony Kilroy Wednesday, December 25, 2013 5:29:12 PM we have a street that runs the whole length of town with few stops signs that during the middle of the night we dont run sirens on, but we will run lights. we try not to use sirens past 2200 hrs to avoid waking up the whole town unless they are necessary, for a true emergency.

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